Teresa R. Christopher
Advisor, Ocean Collectiv
Teresa R. Christopher has spent her career working across all levels of government and has a deep understanding and experience with global ocean and coastal issues, political processes, and effective institutional settings. Christopher served in the Obama Administration for 8 years holding several senior posts, including at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Christopher has worked with State, local, and tribal officials, Congress, foreign governments, multi-lateral organizations, businesses, NGOs, and other stakeholders to develop and implement environmental, natural resource, and economic policies and solutions.
From 2016-2017, Christopher served as Associate Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where she oversaw an agency with over 9,000 employees responsible for the management and conservation of fish, wildlife, & natural resources and over 850 million acres of land and water. In this role, Christopher was responsible for driving major domestic and international policy and regulatory initiatives focused on conservation, public lands, endangered species, and marine protected areas. During her tenure, Christopher led and served on U.S. delegations and helped to negotiate multilateral measures to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and address harmful trade practices.
From 2012-2016, Christopher served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce and the Chair’s designee to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. In this role, she spearheaded the establishment of a new federal agency responsible for investment of over $3 billion in restoration projects following the BP oil spill– taking it from a start-up to a fully functioning organization. Working with 5 Governors and 6 Cabinet members, she oversaw selection and funding of more than $180 million in projects that invest in environmental sustainability, community resilience, clean water, and healthy habitats.
Prior to joining Commerce, Christopher served as Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) where she was instrumental in the development of the United States’ first National Ocean Policy and implementation of key marine and coastal resource policies and strategies. She managed the President’s National Ocean Council, a 26 member cabinet-level committee established to advise the President on U.S. and global ocean and coastal policy.
Christopher has also served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where she was responsible for advising on complex ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes issues. Earlier in her career, she served as a Special Assistant to the Director at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; within NOAA’s National Ocean Service managing communication, outreach, and legislative initiatives; and in public diplomacy for the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
A native of the Jersey Shore, Christopher holds a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and a B.S. in Earth and Ocean Sciences and a B.A. in Political Science from Duke University.